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Political discussion

I'm going to try something new.

Years ago when I started blogging, I deliberately separated my political blogging from my overtly pagan blogging. There had been some issues when I spoke as both a pagan and a libertarian. I still try to avoid mixing the two. Most pagans are progressives, very few are willing to give libertarians and conservatives the time of day.

I believe that we need to have our thoughts and ideas tested. We need to argue respectfully with those who disagree with us. Sometimes we need to shout at them at waggle our fingers under their noses.

So in a discussion at The Wild Hunt, I disagreed with Mr. Christopher Blackwell. In part because I separate pagan and political discussions and because TWH closes comments fairly quickly, I offered Pagan Vigil as a place to discuss. He graciously accepted. So here's the relevant post with two edits.

You are actually quite right about the intent to have the landed gentry rule the country.

That last little bit in the Constitution about a Black person being 2/5 3/5 of a White person. Think about it as Black people could not vote, nor could any other minority, who did that help?

The House of representatives was the only house that the numbers population determined the numbers of representatives. So that 2/5 3/5 added the the population for the number of represented in the house, and basically helped the states with the most slaves control things.

As other states gradually got rid of slavery, it helped what became the South to hold on to political power. Before the Civil War because of the value of the slaves, the South was actually wealthier than the North, which only changed by the Civil War and the alleged freeing of the slaves. It was a financial consideration to punish the South, not a human rights act by Lincoln.

Still it continued the Black's work of the former slaves working to full human rights, just as earlier escaped slave did before them. So black people have been fighting for their human rights for along time and they still have trouble getting it. But don't ever under estimate how hard they fought to free them selves, including the hundreds of thousands that fled to Canada.

No one gave those slaves their freedom, they just took it, and the danger of getting caught to get free.

It is a shame that we barely talk of Black history at all, particularly when you consider how long they have been part of our country.

Same goes for our hidden American Indian history. Not knowing of the past makes us unaware of how they got the problems that they suffer from today. Same goes for all the other people that made our country that we choose not to talk about. Take away any of them and this country would not exist. So we could have had a lot of alternate possible countries to what we have now.

Nothing dull about the real history of the United States but you have to hunt it down on your own, because it is never taught in school. It is both bloodier and more cruel than the cleaned up version we were taught. But the people that we were not taught about were often more interesting than those we were taught about.

So let's start with the "landed gentry."

Although Congress argued over the idea that only landowners could hold office, in the end the Constitution only limits officeholders by citizenship and age. At the time, this effectively limited office holders to wealthy men because not everyone had the means to run off and attend a session of Congress. But the writing was on the wall. Among other things it helped lay the legal justification of the 13th (slavery abolished), 14th (citizen rights), 15th (race no bar to vote) and 19th (woman's suffrage) Amendments. Because the original Constitution did not limit citizenship to men, landowners, or military service, it was subject to change.

That's a key idea and worth stressing. Subject to change.

The Founders were flawed, no doubt about it. They didn't provide perfection. The Constitution was a path where things could be made better than they were yesterday and are today.

And that leads directly into the next bit. Slaves were only considered three-fifths of a person, and only then for determining representation in Congress. Absolutely a bad idea, one of the worst things in the Constitution.

But let's not forget we're looking at it from a 21st Century perspective. In the 18th Century, slavery was common in many cultures and not just those founded by European peoples. Slavery was rampant among Native Americans. There were entire tribes in Africa based on the slave trade. Much of the idea of tying peasants to the land had it's basis in slavery. Slavery was not a uniquely American sin. In fact, if not for the combined efforts of Britons and Americans, slavery would still be widespread all over the World.

None of that make slavery right by either the standards of the time or the standards of today. But it took a moral people to abolish slavery. They wanted to make a better world.

Subject to change.

The three-fifths text was a compromise. Without it, there would not have been thirteen states united, there would be at least two nations. And neither would have been strong enough to last the 19th Century. And that in turn means that the chances are pretty good slavery might not have been abolished.

Out of the perdition of slavery rose a proud people who wanted only a chance. It could be Frederick Douglass lecturing Lincoln or Soujourner Truth leading folks to freedom. One of the sad, terrible facts about Reconstruction is that many southerners didn't want the "uppity negros" owning land or holding public office. They especially didn't want "blacks" owning guns.

Watch this pattern, it appears a lot.

So government came to "help." For their own good, of course.

Here's another sad fact. The more government "helps," the more dependent a people becomes. And that leads straight to the Native Americans. Government policy keeps Amerindians unemployed and in poverty. Government mismanges mineral rights and other assets belonging to the tribes. Government agencies are unaccountable for the damage they do "helping those who can not help themselves." In urban areas, this happens on a smaller scale, but it's still devastating.

The answer here is not government help to redress past injustice, but to get out of the way.

We're taught in American society that government looks out of the little guy. No one teaches that government causes more problems than it solves. No one teaches that government loves to revise history.

Mr. Blackwell, you're right about the injustice. You're wrong about where it comes from.

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